Monday, February 14, 2011

McPhee Faces Most Important Trade Deadline Of His Career

The fate of the Washington Capitals, head coach Bruce Boudreau and even general manager George McPhee could change drastically. As the Caps talk of a trade that could spark the team's sudden lack of offense could be found in getting just the play for the job. But February 28th is fast approaching, the NHL's trade deadline. And McPhee could put his team in a position for a run at the Cup, or their struggles continue.

Last season, McPhee found it important to stock his shelves with players that can step in as injuries occur. It is a forward thinking proposition if the team expects to be in the playoffs for the long run. But that plan did really come to fruition. A quick exit in the first round after taking the league by storm in the regular season was nothing short of a disappointment.

Unlike last season, the Caps need production now out of who ever they might get. If the Caps continue to slip in the standings. They are currently 5 points behind the Lightning, with the Canadiens, Rangers and Hurricanes pressing to leap frog the Caps to sit a little more pretty in the standings.

Let's take an honest look at this season though. If the Capitals had this kind of season before the offensive juggernaut of the '09-'10 team, would we still be as disappointed in how this team is producing? Maybe on the numbers Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin are putting up. But this team is a completely different team than a year ago.

The defensive core has at leas 600 less games played before they acquired Scott Hannan from Colorado. Include a pair of rookie goaltenders that the Capitals feel they have to play tougher defense in front of and a lack luster power play from last season puts the Caps in unfamiliar waters.

If the Caps can't turn around their current situation and the struggles continue into another disappointing early exit in the playoffs, owner Ted Leonsis has some tough decisions to make. Should he stick with McPhee and make a coaching change? Or make changes from the top down? Since the purchase of the Washington Wizards, Uncle Ted has his attentions split and maybe thinking of making those steep changes in what was a sure thing a season ago.

But to put myself in the shoes of McPhee, Boudreau or even Ted Leonsis is a stretch. Like McPhee has said before, if I really knew anything about hockey I would be in the business. But as an outside entity that has cover this team for the last five years, I see the writing on the wall. This will be a very important trade deadline for this team. It can be a turning point for either good or bad.

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